I remember when I started working out many years ago, it was so easy to develop both in power and muscle mass. I did not overthink my workout routine and the exercises I did. I just went to the gym followed my beginner routine, or I just did those exercises that I liked.
Of course, as a beginner, I wanted to get results fast, so I always challenged myself to lift a little bit heavier weights each time. I always wanted to go over my limits, and those limits were moving further with each training.
Did that happen to you as well? You started lifting weights, and you grew fast. Those were the days.
However, as months and years pass that muscle and strength development usually slows down.
Just think about your recent months. How much development do you experience in your strength and muscles? Have you been able to increase the amount of weight you use for bench press, squat or any other exercises? If yes, you do the things right.
If not, don’t worry, you are not alone. Most of the gym goers after some months experience a drop in their development. The more time has passed since you started working out, the harder it will be to improve.
As you advance, it’s becoming more and more difficult to develop, and every detail of your workout, diet, technique and a lot of other things will be more and more important.
Below I would like to share a few proven tips with you that will boost your workout routine and with that your muscle and strength improvement.
Why don’t I develop like I used to be?
When you start to lift weights, it is a kind of a shock to your body, and it tries to adapt to this new stress as soon as possible. It wants to get its balance back.
So, how it reacts? It boosts the size and the strength of the muscles quickly.
But as you train more and more, your body gets used to that stress, and after a time it does not react so drastically. As a result, the muscle development slows down.
So, if you always do the same workout routine, doing the same exercises at the same intensity and with the same weights, the response of your body will be almost nothing. Your workouts will be enough just for keeping your current level.
The Key to further development
To keep evolving, you should increase the load on your body to give it the required stress for growing. You can do that by increasing the amount of weight you use and/or by making more sets and reps.
If you only increase the number of repetitions and sets, at the end your training will be too long. And with that, you may risk over-training your body and mind, and that can leads to injury, muscle loss, boredom and under motivation. Who has time to have 1.5-2 hours workouts? I have not. But if you have, just do it.
Hence, if increasing the number of sets and reps is not the best option to keep our development, we should increase the amount of weight we use, don’t we? And for that, we should increase the strength.
What makes muscle grow?
According to today’s science, muscle growth is primarily determined by the volume of work performed by the muscles.
So, the more reps you do with a significantly challenging weight on a particular workout for a given muscle group, the faster you develop. Of course, more than one factor plays a role, but the most important of all is this.
What forces the strength to develop?
The major part of the strength improvement is due to the increased efficiency of the nervous system.
So you can increase your strength by teaching your nervous system to guide the muscles and the muscle fibers to work as efficiently as possible while doing a particular exercise.
Why is it a good idea to divide the two?
If you want to use heavy weights as well as high volumes, you can quickly over-train yourself. Hence, on a more advanced level, it is better to split the strength and muscle building training periods.
What is it all about?
In the power development period, you teach the muscles to work as efficiently as possible. Then, when you build muscle mass, you use your existing strength to build as big muscles as possible.
Therefore, the next time, when the muscle building period comes, you are going to be stronger, so you can build even bigger muscles. And so and so on.
Some tips how to create your workout plan
Now you know you how strength and muscles development connect to each other. So, the next step is to create a workout plan. I don’t want to suggest you an exact program since we have different backgrounds, strength level, muscle mass and routine in training. However, here are few tips that have always worked for me.
For the strength development period
- 80% of your training should consist of the basic exercises such squat, bench press, deadlift. Do only 20% additional exercises.
- Do the basic exercises 2-3 times a week so each time you have full body workouts.
- Make only 3-6 reps, obviously with heavy weights.
- Have longer rests between the sets, 3 or more minutes.
- Try increasing the amount of weight from workout to workout.
For the muscle mass development period
- Your training should include 50% basic exercises and 50% additional ones.
- Make high repetitions (8-12)
- Have short rest between the sets (1-2 minutes)
- Try to make more reps or sets for the next workout.
- Train each muscle groups at least every 4 days (split training).
So, if you have stopped developing, or just want to get even better results, try these tips. Have workouts for strength for 4-6 weeks and then turn to muscle building and so on. I’m sure you will see results. You are going to be big and strong as well.
On top of that, a divided workout routine like this is not boring and provides a lot of opportunities to challenge yourself.
One more thing. If you do calisthenics (bodyweight exercises), this system works as well.
In the strength development period, you can use weight plates or a weight vest to make pull ups, push ups, etc. harder, so you will not be able to do so many reps. Or you can turn to more challenging exercises variations. For example, doing pistol squad, one arm pull-ups or push-ups.
And in the muscle building period, you just increase the reps and sets of the traditional exercises.
I hope these tips will help you to switch the next level and you will see significant development in both strength and size.
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